87: Measuring Your Social Media Influence
When we were in high school, popularity was dependent on multiple factors: who your friends were, what your interests were, how many people knew your name (not to mention if you had money, played sports, drove a cool car, or were part of a band).
In some ways, social media environments like Facebook and Twitter have become the new places to determine social standing. Through online social sharing, we are communicating many of the same markers used in our student years.
When you’re building your brand through social media, it’s good to visualize your standing and your progress. Multiple companies are working to turn various, measurable data points into some form of comparable social score—some sort of official rank. Rather than popularity, these scoring systems aim to determine how influential you are—how people interact with your online content.
Almost all of these scoring systems are still in beta stage, as they tinker with algorithms toward more accurate insights. Because of this, don’t be shocked if your score fluctuates without a drastic change in your social media interaction. Almost all of these scoring systems are Twitter-centric, because Twitter is more about broadcasting and getting your message to a broad audience—as opposed to Facebook and others, which are meant for sharing among friends and family. Almost all of these scoring systems focus only on the last 30 to 120 days and appropriately so, as relevance is measured in the now.
Below you’ll find a non-exhaustive list of some of the social media measurement tools I’ve consulted to see how my online brand is faring.
If I could pick only one social measurement tool, Klout would have the tool box to itself. Their site is fast—much faster than some of these other analytics sites. Their service is free; and they currently allow you to connect up to ten different social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, FourSquare, Tumblr, Blogger, Last.fm, and Flickr. (According to their website, Klout is also working to connect your Facebook Pages, YouTube, and Google+ streams.) Klout shows you comparable social media users, including those you influence and those that influence you. Klout not only shows your current ranking but also your trajectory. It also offers web browser plugins that automatically show you other Tweeters’ scores next to their tweets.
Peer Index includes some of Klout’s capabilities but also maps the topics of your tweets on a graph of eight categories. (It’s interesting to watch my topic map change over time into different shapes.) The thinking behind this is that, typically—just as with blogging—the more topically-concentrated your posts are, the more likely you are to gain an interactive following. Currently, Peer Index measures your influence on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, and your RSS-enabled blog. Also like Klout, Peer Index offers web browser plugins that automatically show you other Tweeters’ scores next to their twitter handles—at Twitter.com (even if only mentioned in a tweet) or on any site where their Twitter handle is listed.
As the name implies, Twitalyzer measures only your Twitter activity. Twitalyzer has maybe the largest selection of raw numbers amongst the Twitter analysis sites, but that’s in part to reporting both Klout and Peer Index scoring data with their other metrics. You won’t find any fancy graphs here, but I really like that their scores are annotated to tell you your percentile for each number in the matrix.
Also a Twitter-only measuring tool, TweetLevel has weak graphing and very little in terms of comparison with others on Twitter. One thing I like about this site, though, is that it gives insightful recommendations for improving the various contributing factors to your score.
The main thrust of this Twitter measurement tool is currently to show you the best times to tweet content, based on mapping of your past tweets and the number of impressions they received. At time of writing, uptime and score processing speed have been tremendously flaky, as the Crowdbooster team is adding to the site’s capabilities.
If you’re a fan of graphs, you’ll like TwentyFeet. Outside of Klout, this site tracks probably the second-most amount of social streams. I’ve had a couple issues with its beta version in load times and in unintended, automatic tweeting of scores. With ongoing maintenance, this site might move into the top tier of measurement systems.
This site leaves a lot to be desired. It doesn’t explain scores or offer the robust reporting of other sites. Unlike other sites, which measure in ratings from 1-100, MyWebCareer shows your score in similar fashion to a credit report. MyWebCareer claims to rank your search engine results, too, though it doesn’t seem to lift the veil to see how it compiles such.
Facebook’s “Insights” tool is what it claims to be: insightful. Where this analytic tool excels in in measuring your audience demographically—something the aggregate sits don’t (and probably can’t) do. The graphing is interactive, allowing adjustable timelines. The only sizable drawbacks are (1) it’s available only for pages, not for profiles; (2) you can’t compare your scores to those of others; and (3) you can’t include your scores from other social media for a more holistic view of your online presence.
This list will probably look very different a year from now. Several other entities, including Nielsen—yes, the folks who measure television audience—are working their way into the social measurement game with new measurement units and matrixes. As with search engines and other website categories, natural selection will eventually create an oligarchy of reliable, standard players that prove to own both the most intuitive algorithms and the best user interfaces. In the mean time, the measurement choices we have are entertaining at least and informative at best.
Social media analytics won’t tell you where to advertise your auctions. They won’t tell you how many people are absorbing your message—only those who interact with it. These sites don’t supplant the most important question to analyze your media outlays: “How did my bidders hear about my auction?” But they can give you a more informed perspective of how you’re doing at building an interactive brand on the Internet.
While many joke about the large amount of time I’m perceived to spend on social media, few know that I too often approach social media as a a competition. It’s not a zero-sum game, but I work hard to make sure my brands—personal and professional—perform online at a high level, preferably at a level above those I teach & consult and against whom I or my clients compete in business. (I check my Klout score daily, and that probably isn’t healthy.)
Where it becomes even more treacherous is when likes, comments, and retweets affect my choices of what to post. The temptation is to post only the Ryan that my six years in social media have shown me is the most popular. True, some of that is good sense—appropriateness, professionalism, etc. But there’s a line between appealing to an audience and portraying an authentic personae.
That’s a challenge for all of us to varying degrees, both online and offline. That’s why one of the scariest prayers for American Christians came from Israel’s King David: “Search me, and know my heart. See if there be any wicked way in me.”